The civil servant Ivan Matveyich and his wife Elena Ivanovna are spectators of an exhibition – in a shopping arcade – of a crocodile owned by a German, when Ivan is suddenly swallowed alive by the animal. Unsuccessful in his attempts to be freed from his prison, due to the German’s concern for his crocodile and excessive desire for compensation, the civil servant gradually comes to appreciate his new environment, while his wife begins to enjoy her new-found freedom.
Inspired by Gogol’s surreal tales, Dostoevsky’s hilarious story has been interpreted by some as a vitriolic piece of social criticism and a veiled attack on the revolutionary philosopher Nikolai Chernyshevsky.
'Like the discovery of love, like the discovery of the ocean, the discovery of Dostoevsky is a memorable event in our lives.' Jorge Luis Borges
Read an excerpt from The Crocodile
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